I think this story dates from the 1950s, plus or minus a decade - I read it about 30-35 years ago in a (then) fairly old story collection. It involves explorers on a planet falling into a gelatinous object that dissolves most of their bodies except for their brains and nervous systems. About four of them fall in to the same creature, and they discover that by thinking about it they can grow limbs and other body parts. At first they try to fight each other, by growing arms so they can hit each other's brains - and one of them realises that growing a skull would be a good idea - but later they agree to grow legs and move the creature around co-operatively. I would love to identify this story.

  • 1
    Actually they do some cooperation with the four at first, then start fighting and kill 2 of them. The two survivors move on together.
    – Oldcat
    Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 23:27

1 Answer 1


The story is "Four in One" by Damon Knight. This blog post has a summary that matches your description.

  • That's it! Thanks very much. Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 15:52

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